US surpasses 20 million Covid-19 cases while experts foresee tough times in January

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The US surpassed 20 million total recorded Covid-19 cases on Friday, hours after the country ushered in 2021 and left behind its deadliest month of the pandemic.

The nation also has set a Covid-19 hospitalization record for four straight days. The high counts are a grim reminder that even with 2020 behind us, the pandemic continues to ravage parts of the country. And some leaders warn the worst is still ahead.
“We are still going to have our toughest and darkest days,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told CNN on Thursday.
More than 125,000 coronavirus patients were in US hospitals Friday, Covid Tracking Project data shows.
Los Angeles County, as well as the state of California, have battled brutal surges of infections, hospitalizations and deaths in the past weeks, driven in part by Thanksgiving gatherings, health officials said. Surging hospitalizations in the county are pushing hospitals to the “brink of catastrophe,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, its health services director.
Design and construction experts from the Army Corps of Engineers are being deployed to fix oxygen delivery systems at several older hospitals in the Los Angeles area, according to California’s Office of Emergency Management.
Teams will begin work as soon as Saturday at six overtaxed hospitals identified as having infrastructure problems that are preventing them from providing a high pressure supply of oxygen to Covid-19 patients.
“The State of California is continuously working to support our hospitals and protect the lives of Californians impacted by COVID-19. By working to upgrade challenged oxygen delivery systems at these older hospitals, we can improve the ability to deliver life sustaining medical care to those who need it,” said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
In Atlanta, a convention center will again become an overflow field hospital starting Friday — service it has given twice previously during the pandemic — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office said.
The number of Covid-19 patients in Georgia hospitals on a given day has more than doubled since mid-November, the tracking project’s data shows. The convention center’s beds will “help ensure that our hospitals continue to have the capacity they need for Covid and non-Covid patients,” Kemp has said.
As of early Friday afternoon, the country had recorded a total of more than 20,080,000 Covid-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins data. Going by official tallies, it took 292 days for the US to count its first 10 million cases, and just 54 more days to double that figure.
However, the actual pace of infections probably was different. Researchers have long said the number of infections likely is many millions higher, having been undercounted in part because of testing limitations.
December was the deadliest month of the pandemic for the US, accounting for more than 77,500 of the country’s 346,000 Covid-19 deaths, Johns Hopkins University data shows.
And experts have warned daily numbers could worsen nationwide in the coming weeks, with swells stemming from gatherings and travels over the holidays.
Despite repeated calls from local and state leaders for people to celebrate with only members of their household, millions of Americans opted to spend time away from home.

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